Do Your Homework Before a Corporate Retreat!

Corporate retreats can be powerfully productive sessions or they can be quiet and uninspired, well, flops. So much time and effort goes into planning for success at these offsite meetings, but even when the reservations come together in time, if everybody doesn’t do their homework (planner, leader, and attendees), there’s a chance that your retreat won’t live up to its full potential.

As masters of how to make corporate retreats go right, the facilitators at Arden Coaching are well-versed in what each party needs to do in order to walk away from retreat sessions with an action plan that will stick. Keep reading to find out how to best prepare yourself and others for your upcoming corporate retreat!

1. Identify Your Intended Outcomes

A lot of people put retreats on their calendars with the intention to bring the team out, do a little bit of talking about what’s happening next year, and see where that takes everybody.

What’s wrong with that? Without clear objectives, you’re essentially putting on a corporate retreat without a game plan. Time and money well spent? Not likely.

Concrete objectives work to set and keep the team’s focus during offsite sessions. If you as the leader aren’t completely clear on what you want to get out of the discussions that are going to take place, you can’t expect groundbreaking realizations and forward momentum to be waiting on the other side.

Figure out what these are away ahead of time to ensure results meet your expectations.

2. Hire a Facilitator to Do Discovery Work

Discovery work is a pre-planning retreat step that involves interviewing key stakeholders on the team in order to take a temperature reading of what’s working and what’s not.

The issue here is, if you’re planning the retreat and you’re in human resources or the team’s leader, trying to conduct these interviews from the inside is going to prove futile. When put in the position to give feedback for directly to their superior, people tend to say what they think the other person wants to hear. Getting to the really valuable feedback that’s going to help the team move forward is the real challenge.

Hiring an outside facilitator makes discovery work easier on everyone. Since feedback is anonymous and confidential, team members are more likely to share their true feelings and frustrations instead of worrying about potential consequences that could result from their honesty. The leader and rest of the team benefit at the retreat with a better idea of what needs to be done in order to improve.

Find out why executive coaches are naturals when it comes to facilitating.

3. Prep Attendees

Prepping everyone properly can also make or break a retreat. There are two levels of prep that you don’t want to forget:

 1.       Literal prepping: Make sure that everyone knows where they’re going and when and what topics are going to be discussed in each session prior to taking their seat at the meeting table.

 2.       Workload support:

    • Find a way to hold the retreat at a time of the year where everyone’s workload is lighter.
    • Provide retreat attendees with help leading up to the retreatand when coming back. Otherwise, they’ll spend the duration of their time away stressing about what’s happening back at the office instead of focusing on the offsite’s objectives.

4. Set Your Follow-Up Strategy Now

Doing your homework leading into a retreat also means talking about what happens on way out, so secure your retreat follow-up plans now. How will what was discussed during meetings be implemented?

Decide whether you’ll hold a follow-up retreat or follow-up meetings before the retreat takes place. This way you can lay the foundation for ensuring that suggestions and commitments laid out during sessions are honored when you return to the office.

Get going on the homework items we’ve laid out and you’ll be on the fast track to a successful corporate retreat! Want a more detailed approach to going about these key strides in the offsite setup process? Download Arden’s free eBook on successful corporate retreats for step-by-step planning and implementation tips from our professional facilitation team.